Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hook's Pan by Marie Hall

This is book 5 in a series but it is only the first book I've ever read by this author. That being said, I was able to enjoy this story without having read the previous books. The book description intrigued me. It's such an interesting idea - reinventing baddies or shady types from classic fairy tales and making them romantic heroes and pairing them with modern women. The hero in this story is Captain Hook from the classic Peter Pan story. The author paints him as a flawed but deeply sympathetic & romantic figure. The modern woman fate (or in this case a fairy) pairs him with is supposedly the reincarnated version of his lost love. I always think "reincarnated love" stories are tricky. However, I liked how the author respected the memory of the lost love but drove home the point that Trishelle is her own woman and should be valued and loved for who she is, rather than who she may have been at one time. I liked that Hook & Trish had a similar tragic experience that helped them connect and bond. I found the ending very satisfying but I would have loved for Pan to have gotten punished. I am looking forward to reading the previous books as well as any more the author might write in this series.

Sleeping with the Entity by Cat Devon

First - I just want to say that the artwork on the cover depicts exactly what I have in mind for the hero of this book & head vamp Nick St. George looking like. This is also the first book by this author that I've read. I thought there were some funny moments in this book, which I appreciated. I wasn't sure if the humor was completely intentional or if that's just how the quirkiness of the characters came off to me. The heroine in this story, Daniella Delaney, is unaware that she just opened shop (cupcake) in a town primarily made up of vampires. The vampires are pretty much peaceful and don't go around attacking & killing humans. It just freaks everybody out, especially Nick, that her cupcake shop could draw more humans and some unwanted attention. They also find it a little unnerving that she can't be mentally compelled by any vampire. I found it particularly amusing when Nick would be almost mesmorized by his attraction to Daniella at unusual times, and how this would alternately arouse and dumbfound her.The only thing that really took me by surprise with this book, was that I expected more conflict regarding the heroine's brother - but I was totally fine without it. It just seemed at one point that the brother angle was leading somewhere sinister. I look forward to reading more by this author and more books in this series.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wrong Man, Right Kiss by Red Garnier

At a masquerade ball, Molly Devaney shares a very hot kiss and a steamy encounter with some masked man she believes to be Garrett Gage. She then believes that they were meant to be together, but has not yet revealed himself to be her masked man. Molly and her sister Kate were orphans at a young age and came to live with the wealthy Gage family. As soon as Molly and the younger Gage son Julian first met when she was 3 and he was six, they have felt a connection. I love the anecdote about the time when Molly first met Julian and she took her lollipop out of her mouth when she was little and handed it to Julian and he popped it in his. So cute.  Julian and Molly turn into best friends. The frustrating thing for them, particularly Julian, is that his family kept trying to condition the two of them that they must never have a romantic relationship. Another moving anecdote is when Molly wanted to take Julian to the prom and the family told her that she must always think of him only as a brother and she broke down in tears. It’s baffling that the family didn’t just let nature take its course. A lot of headaches, as well as a lot of pain for Julian and Molly could have been saved if the family hadn’t interfered. Like I said, I think the worst thing the family did, even though they thought it was for the right reasons, was not just that they tried to keep the two apart but the way they tried to condition them and buck their natural instincts. A little unnecessarily cruel to my way of thinking.

Anyway, the story starts out with Molly hoping to get Julian to help her win his brother Garrett. The plan is to pretend they are a couple, thus inciting Garrett’s jealousy and making him fall for Molly. Julian is at first happy to help, if not a little surprised by Molly’s interest in his brother. However, it doesn’t take long for him to get in touch with his true feelings for Molly, feelings he’s been made to bury all these years. The scenes between Julian and Molly were at times funny, moving, intense, and very sexy. I look forward to reading more by this author and catching the story of Molly’s sister Kate.

As Twilight Falls by Amanda Ashley

As a longtime fan of this author, I really liked and was intrigued by the direction she went in with this book. Kadie Andrews is going around the country photographing ghost towns. She finds herself in Morgan Creek and things take a creepy turn when she finds that she is unable to leave. The town is like a Bermuda Triangle. What she soon finds out is that the town is home to a coven of vampires and the humans they keep in town for their own personal blood source. The town is enchanted so that anybody unlucky enough to wander in can never find their way out. I like the pop culture references in this book, showing a self-awareness – that it’s the kind of thing that only happens in TV shows like The Twilight Zone. I liked how the beginning of the story was almost more “spooky story” than “paranormal romance”. You get to see Kadie go through different stages – fear, shock, disbelief, until she almost shows acceptance by the time she’s talked to Vaughn & the female human residents (prisoners) a few times. There are other paranormal romances with strong, alpha-male heroes in which the heroines are put into situations in which they have little to no control but I think this story really explores the philosophical aspects. Kadie is kept, along with the other human residents (both male & female), against their will by vampires. The vampires use the humans for their blood, but in return the humans are given certain freebies (housing, entertainment, etc.). For some of the vampires, they really don’t see what they are doing that is so wrong. The downside for the humans, other than being used for their blood, is being torn from their normal lives and loved ones – some have been trapped for 20 years or so. There is no money but some of the humans do odd jobs, not for money, but to feel useful and break up the monotony. I enjoyed the love story as well – the main one between Kadie and head vampire Rylan Saintcrow as well as the secondary one that comes later between Shirley and a male vampire created by the evil vampire Lilith. I liked seeing Rylan evolve throughout the story. He starts out seeming like a self-centered king with no concern for others beside himself. Through knowing Kadie, he starts to see Morgan Creek and what the vampires have done in a different light. The only thing I had a hard time understanding was how the female humans changed in their attitude toward Kadie after it became evident that she was in love with Rylan. I think if I was her, I would have stopped trying with them a lot sooner. I look forward to reading more books by this author, especially looking for more stories in this new style.

Seducing the Demon Huntress by Victoria Davies

This was the first book I’ve ever read by this author. It’s only about 78 pages but I loved it. The two main characters are Kerilyn and Arawn. Kerilyn is from a long line of demon hunters. Most of her family members are dead from fighting demons. She lives alone and one of the few visitors she has is Arawn. Arawn is Lord of the Spirits and his realm is the Netherworld. Every Halloween since she was 16, Arawn has come to visit her. Halloween being the one night spirits and demons can leave the Netherworld. Due to her line of work, and things she’s heard from her family, she is naturally wary of Arawn and his motives for visiting her. However, at the same time, she also finds herself strangely attracted. No matter how much she questions his motivation, she can’t help herself from meeting on the other side of her fence each Halloween and indulging in their verbal dance. Though this story was short, I felt like the author did a great job of pulling you in and making the chemistry between Kerilyn & Arawn interesting to read about. The sexual tension was the good kind, rather than the frustrating kind. I totally fell for the character of Arawn. He was a delicious mix of sexy, slightly dangerous, and yet sweet. I loved how they managed to work together and how, like Arawn said, this romance was largely about trust issues. I would love to read more stories from this author in general, and I would specifically love it if she decides to write more stories involving these two characters. This was just the kind of story I was looking for today – very satisfying to read.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Baby Between Friends by Kathie Denosky

Because of a sexual trauma years ago, Summer Patterson is not anxious to have an intimate relationship with a man any time soon. However, she does want a baby. Her plan is to ask her best friend, Texas hottie Ryder, to be a sperm donor. The request takes Ryder very much by surprise. Though friends, he has found himself more and more attracted to Summer. Without being aware of her past hurt, one of the conditions he throws in is that they make a baby the old-fashioned way. This freaks Summer out a little but she thinks it’s a small price to pay for what she wants. She also really trusts Ryder and feels as though agreeing with this condition might help her with her intimacy issues. Ryder totally expected her to be turned off by his condition so he’s dumbfounded by her agreement. After learning a little about her past, he takes it back but she tells him how she thinks it might help. Ryder has his own issues from his past that prove challenging to making a relationship work. I liked this romance because I liked and cared about the main characters. There were moments that were slightly awkward, sweet, sexy, and frustrating but I kept reading see what happened with the characters. I was happy with the way things worked out and how Summer & Ryder resolved their personal issues. I read a previous book in this series and look forward to reading about the other guys in this group.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

True by Erin McCarthy

I decided to read this book because I have been a fan of this author’s work for a long time. I had never heard of the term “New Adult” fiction before reading this book, so I had to go to Wikipedia to look it up. This book certainly falls in that category. This book was all about people in their 20s finding out who they are and watching them go on a journey. I was happy to find that the hero & heroine in this story were not teens. When you are legally an adult I feel like you have more options with regard to how you can deal with problems in your life.

The main female character in this story is Rory, a 20yr-old math/science geek and virgin. She is rooming in a dorm with two girls who are extremely more social than she is and have more experience with guys. I liked the relationship between all three girls. Even though Rory is different from her roommates Jessica & Kylie in many ways, they find things to bond over and it’s never a situation where the popular girls treat the smart girl like an alien. The stereotype is abandoned in favor of real characters. That’s one of the things I look for in books I read in general and why I usually like books by this author. Characters with a little depth make a book for me. At first the main male character, Tyler, seems like the typical bad boy but he quickly reveals himself to be more. I, as the reader, discover right along with Rory things that surprise and are endearing – his aptitude with literature (showing his intelligence), his deep feelings for his brothers, his protective nature, the sweet way he is with Rory. Tyler is more than just a guy with tattoos, an unusual piercing, and a bad smoking habit. I liked both Rory and Tyler and felt they complimented each other. I liked how Rory remained true to herself throughout the book and never acted out of character for her. I respected that & I feel like that is something Tyler respected as well. I liked this story a lot, even though I generally prefer lighter stories. This was a two hankie read for sure, but I found the story hard to put down and kept reading through until the end. I was outraged on Tyler’s behalf on how life treated him at times, but was glad for the HEA at the end. I would look forward to following what happens with Rory and Tyler in later books in this series.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When Honey Got Married by Kimberly Lang, Anna Cleary, Kelly Hunter, Ally Blake

I tend to stay away from frame stories. I just never trust that separate stories by different authors will all be good and have a natural flow. This story sounded interesting so I took a chance. This was a fabulous anthology. I loved them all. There were no dud stories and they all seemed to complement each other. They were all sexy & romantic. The stories are all framed by the upcoming wedding of Honey & Brent and everything takes place leading up to the big wedding day.
The first story, by Kimberly Lang, involves Grace, a woman who is planning a wedding in the town she went to high school & swore she’d never return. She is actually planning a wedding for a girl who was Ms. Popularity in high school & is being catered by the class jock she had a crush on. The story is cute and Grace realizes that she’s not the only one who’s changed since high school. The story by Anna Cleary is about Eve, the woman who worked closely with the groom and who hopes to wow him and maybe have him fall at her feet. She’s not really bad. Eve just believes she loves the groom and is surprised he proposed to somebody else. The story follows her and her plan to get the groom alone until her plans never come to fruition due to the efforts of the groom’s very sexy cousin Rainer. The sparks between the two are great. The next story, by Kelly Hunter, is about the bride’s sister Nina. Nina has been estranged from her family for about 7 years. She ran off to pursue her love of dance. At the time of her sister’s wedding she is an aerial performer at a circus. She is anxious about going home for the wedding but her co-worker and best buddy Alex offers to go with her. Along the way, Alex has some surprises for Nina – among them that he has been in love with her for quite a while. Alex is super sexy, blond, trim, athletic, British and from the home of Mr. Darcy – Derbyshire. Sigh. Very romantic story. The next story, by Ally Blake, is about Pippa. Pippa is the former high school girlfriend of the groom & former best friend of the bride. Pippa dumped the groom, turned down his proposal, and ran off right after graduating high school to have an adventure and make a name for herself. She also shared a smokin’ kiss with the groom’s older brother the night she bolted. I liked the background from Pippa’s point of view and Griff(brother of the groom)’s point of view, despite the shortness of the story. The flashbacks helped give the story more texture. There is a little epilogue at the end about the bride and groom riding off into the sunset to tie everything together.
I liked how characters from all the stories popped up in a natural way through the different stories connecting everything. Again – I loved this collection and highly recommend!

Taking the Reins by Kat Murray

This was a romance with two imperfect people that made a perfectly enjoyable story. When Peyton & Red first have an interaction at the opening of the story, Peyton overhears what she thinks is Red badmouthing her to a potential client. Needless to say, that does not endear him to her. What Red was actually doing was discouraging somebody he knew to be a problem from doing business with Peyton & saving her a potential headache. It’s not that long after that encounter that Peyton goes to Red for help. She has a struggling stud ranch & he works magic with horses and brings good business because of his good name in the industry. Red happens to be free because he just ended his last business arrangement. Due to his reputation, he could pretty much have his pick of situations but Peyton’s setup appeals to him because he’s attracted to her but he also respects her reputation for caring about her horses and her business. Some people just hire him for the prestige that comes with his name but don’t always follow through with taking his direction and advice. It’s at this meeting that I knew I would like both characters. Even though Peyton is a proud woman, I didn’t feel like she was pouting or acting immature. Likewise, I felt that Red was gracious while listening to her offer, and didn’t act smug. I really liked both main characters. Peyton was a strong, independent, smart businesswoman who cares about family and others. Red was a sexy, strong, man with a great deal of patience and an ability to understand both horses and people. I liked the fact that the romance was a slow, sexy build up. I loved Peyton’s brother Trace and cannot wait to read his book. The way he was with his baby son Seth was just too sweet. I was worried at first that the conflict with the two “bad guys” – Red’s loser dad, and Peyton’s loser ex-horse trainer - would overshadow the romance through the whole story. I was happy that was not the case. The focus of the story was the main characters and their relationships with each other. The conflict involving the baddies did not overwhelm that and was nicely resolved at the end. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.